Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Spiffing Saltdean Lido

The seaside lido. What a wonderfully evocative thought! I have to confess that I've never actually swum in one in real life... But, in my mind, they conjure up all sorts of wonderful images of 1930s, interwar frolicking as Britain was taken over by a sort of outdoor, healthy, sporting lifestyle craze.

And the architecture! Wonderfully deco/moderne designs with simple lines, elegant curves and bright white finishing to reflect the sea and sun (literally), and the purity of outdoor pursuits (metaphorically).

But sadly, like the swimwear of the day, the lido became outmoded, and very few of these wonderful pieces of architecture remain, where once they were dotted all around the coast. Apparently there are now only 11 operational lidos from this Golden Era, with only 3 of those by the seaside. One of the last, and the most architecturally impressive, is Saltdean, just east of Brighton. Although its boating lake for paddle boats (how cool is that?!) has now been replaced with a community centre, the whole complex remains largely intact. Which is indeed a rare and wonderful thing.

There is currently a big campaign to safeguard the future of Saltdean Lido against the very real threat of residential development and to keep it in community use, in such a way that is sympathetic to this fabulous 1930s gem. It's also in the running to win some funding from a people's choice community project competition run by the Co-op. So rally round chums, and help:


  1. How interesting - and an historic treasure. I didn't know about the Lidos. How does one "gather around" to show support?

  2. Susan Janet - if you click on the red links in the last paragraph, you can show support! The first one will take you to the campaign page, the second to the Co-op competition, where you can vote.

    And glad to have piqued your interest and to have taught you a bit about lidos!

  3. My dear, unofficial proof-editor, after reading this post, asked if I meant to put the "e" at the end of "moderne"? Though not wanting to get overly bookish and technical, I thought I ought to clarify.

    Basically, whereas the term "modern" architecture is rather broad ranging - applied, in varying circumstances, to almost the whole of the 20th century - "moderne" is more specific. It indicates a style popular from the mid-20s to 40s which is less boxy than the architecture lots of people think of when they hear the term "modern", but which still has minimal embellishment and the unfussy ideals of modernism.

    Hopefully that makes sense!

  4. Thank you for the clarification about modern/moderne. Is moderne pronounced mod-errn rather than mod-un?

    Also, silly of me to ask about how to show support! I realised once I'd left your site.

  5. Yes, pronounced "longer", the French way!

    And not silly of you to ask! I'm new to blogging so probably need to work on making things clearer for my audience... It can be easy to miss links sometimes.

  6. Hi there!

    thank you so much for posting up about the campaign at Saltdean Lido! Such a great cause and beautiful building!

    I live in Brighton and this is just a 10min drive away from mine, and I go by quite often. Love it so much and will be popping there soon as I hear there's a vintage revival meeting being planned :) come pop along if you can? I think you'd love it!

    I'm actually in the process of writing up a guide on Art Deco buildings in Brighton and the surrounding areas very shortly. You should look at the Great Ocean Hotel too, it's justa stones throw from the Lido, and was the very first Butlins hotel. Stunning! Just been redeveloped into very posh flats, but the building remains totally intact.

    Loving the blog by the way! Bookmarked for the future and I'm also on the look out for a rain cap, so will keep you posted if I find one!

    Much Love,


  7. I do like these. And I was happily reminded of my favourite swimming spots in Sydney- The Dawn Faster Baths: . They're not the same era (1880's, although perhaps there's been later additions) but no one seems to know about them, and they do seem to be one of the nicest preserved swimming buildings south side of the harbour. Can't wait to go back in summer.

  8. Thanks for the tip-off, Alison - next time I'm in Sydney...